Thu Jan 26, 2012, 12:10 PM
Scuba (26,783 posts)
Applied Neuroscience, the Six-String Method
For any adult learning an instrument or a new language is terrifying. For a cognitive scientist, it can also be downright depressing. Humans have an early childhood window to acquire such skills easily, according to a long-held tenet in his profession, and it’s a window that closes quickly. Then there is the issue of innate ability. While no single gene can explain Beethoven, Yo-Yo Ma or “Waterloo Sunset,” Dr. Marcus does believe in natural talent, he said, or at least in the certainty he doesn’t have any.
His brain didn’t seem wired for it. Growing up in Baltimore, he loved listening to his parents’ Beatles and Peter, Paul and Mary records, but he was uncoordinated, given to bouts of motion sickness and unable even to use a playground swing. “I think it’s something to do with my cerebellum,” he said. He flunked an aptitude test for band and was discouraged from playing the recorder which, in public school, pretty much leaves the tambourine.
Five years ago he asked a fellow scientist, Dr. Levitin, to show him a few chords. “His timing was off,” Dr. Levitin said. “I told him to practice with a metronome.” But Dr. Marcus couldn’t keep the beat and feared there might be a neurological explanation: a form of musical arrhythmia. Now even the tambourine seemed out of the question.
But as a scientist he was keenly interested in the compensatory mechanisms: how the brain can essentially rewire itself to make up for deficits caused by a stroke, trauma or even a nonexistent sense of rhythm. Maybe with training his prefrontal cortex could accomplish what his cerebellum couldn’t.
As one who started guitar at age 61, and has no innate talent, I could relate to much of the article. Good read for adults aspiring to be musicians.
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Applied Neuroscience, the Six-String Method (Original post)
Response to Scuba (Original post)
Thu Jan 26, 2012, 12:36 PM
Glassunion (5,054 posts)
1. To anyone with an interest in music. You should read these two books...
This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin - This book was fantastic. He explains complex brain functions in ways all of us can understand. He started his career in music and ended up a cognitive neuroscientist. Anyone who can correlate Judy Garland and Jimmy Hendrix in the same sentence is ok in my book.
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks - Another fantastic book that goes over some neurological conditions surrounding music. It is full of amazing stories of some patients. On in particular where an individual who did not really like music, gets struck by lightning at the age of 42 and becomes an amazing pianist.
You have to read these.
Response to Glassunion (Reply #1)
Thu Jan 26, 2012, 12:40 PM
Scuba (26,783 posts)
2. I have not read them. Yet. Thanks for the recommendations!
Anything that moves my learning one day faster is treasured. A good read's always welcome too.